Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Miguel Cabrera, Andre Ethier, Francisco Cordero
Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.
How often? Before his landscape-changing concession to make way for Prince Fielder, Cabrera was already a noteworthy member of the first-pick discussion. Third base is Cabrera's "natural position," as the masher put it yesterday. However, throughout his defensive career, it has looked artificial; the Tigers wasted little time ending his 5 tenure after he arrived in '08.
There's enough time for Detroit to prepare him, but the Tigs don't have to cater to fake teams' desires. With Victor Martinez (knee) likely to miss the entire season, the DH slot is open, so it might behoove Jim Leyland to put Miggy there to keep him focused on raking, especially if Detroit is in the postseason race again.
Don't forget Brandon Inge's steady, if not standout, glove at the hot corner and his remaining year under contract. Of course, his streaky bat could play him out of the lineup, but if Leyland favors defense, he could turn to leather-capable utility options Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn.
Working in Cabrera's favor for qualifying is Delmon Young (or "Elmon," given his lack of "D"). Detroit could eliminate a big hole in left field by allowing Young to focus on stick handling.
There's a minor concern about the mental toll the switch could have on Cabrera's production. Still, in a year with no clear-cut fantasy leadoff selection, his four-category eliteness and new bash brother further justify calling his name there. The third-base pool isn't as shallow as many claim, but, unsurprisingly, after the first few existing headliners it dips quickly into a region with massive drop-off risk.
How many appearances or starts does he need to reach 3B eligibility in your league? If you're aiming to deploy the soon-to-be 29-year-old as a 5 eventually, plan ahead to front-fill that spot while he earns time there. Beware of how such a path can alter your draft strategy, though, especially since he might be slow to qualify.
Of course, he'll be dandy if he only winds up with mere 1B eligibility, too.
Nicholas Minnix pointed to this a few weeks ago. The contract-year commodity finally pushed for proper treatment to fix his right knee, which had plagued him for the past two years. This undervalued commodity can easily return to 25- to 30-homer territory.
The right-hander will set up Sergio Santos, per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Alex Anthopolous and company are comfortable with having him as a backup plan; AL-only save scroungers, including owners of Santos, can logically follow suit.
Cordero's erosion, on the other hand, should make you less complacent. Cordero, who'll turn 37 in May, improved his walk rate last year, but despite a 2.45 ERA and a bump in swinging-strike percentage, his K/9 dropped nearly two punchouts from his already downward 2010 output.
Though he frequently gained a first-pitch strike during at-bats, his notable decline in overall offerings within the zone shows he's nibbling after that. His average fastball velocity dropped for the second straight season.
Santos' leash should be quite long in TO. Backing into the role would make CoCo an immediate mixed pickup, but a non-closing Cordero will be dead weight in most dual-universe drafts. Is that worth crossing your late-round fingers for a Santos injury or meltdown?
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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